ARTURO O'FARRILL, pianist, composer, and educator, was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. He received his formal musical education at the Manhattan School of Music and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. Arturo's professional career began with the Carla Bley Band and continued as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte.
In 2007, he founded the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the performance, education, and preservation of Afro Latin music. Learn more about ALJA here
In December 2010 Arturo traveled with the original Chico O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra to Cuba, returning his father's musicians to his homeland. He continues to travel to Cuba regularly as an informal Cultural Ambassador, working with Cuban musicians, dancers, and students, bringing local musicians from Cuba to the US and American musicians to Cuba.
Arturo has performed with orchestras and bands including his own Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and Arturo O'Farrill Sextet, as well as other Orchestras and intimate ensembles in the US, Europe, Russia, Australia, and South America.
An avid supporter of all the Arts, Arturo has performed with Ballet Hispanico and the Malpaso Dance Company, for whom he has written three ballets. In addition, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company is touring a ballet entitled "Open Door," choreographed by Ron Brown to several of Arturo's compositions and recordings. Ron Brown's own Evidence Dance Company has commissioned Arturo to compose New Conversations, which premiered in the Summer of 2018 at Jacob's Pillow in Becket, MA.
Arturo has received commissions from Meet the Composer, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Philadelphia Music Project, The Apollo Theater, Symphony Space, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Young Peoples Chorus of New York, Columbia University and the New York State Council on the Arts.
Arturo's well-reviewed and highly praised "Afro-Latin Jazz Suite" from the album CUBA: The Conversation Continues (Motéma) took the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition and the 2016 Latin Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album. His powerful "Three Revolutions" from the album Familia-Tribute to Chico and Bebo was the 2018 Grammy Award (his sixth) winner for Best Instrumental Composition. Arturo's current album "Four Questions" (ZOHO) is the first to embody all original compositions, including the title track, which features the brilliant orator Dr. Cornel West.
In 2019, Arturo was Artist in Residence for The Greene Space in New York City, for which he created a four-concert series including a newly commissioned composition. The series title was "Radical Acts and Musical Deviancy."
In 2020 Arturo's weekly concerts with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, dubbed "Virtual Birdland," top the list of 10 Best Quarantine Concerts in the New York Times.
Arturo is Professor of Global Jazz Studies and Assistant Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and has been honored as a Steinway Artist for many years.
GRAMMY® Award-winning pianist/composer Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra release their latest recording, Four Questions (ZOHO Music), featuring special guest Dr. Cornel West on the title composition "Four Questions" on Friday, April 10, 2020. Four Questions marks O'Farrill's first album in his famed recording catalog to exclusively include all originally written compositions. Weaving together empowering messages for the times, Four Questions portrays the pioneering pianist as outspoken as ever on the obligation of artists to speak truth to the great injustices occurring across the globe.
HBO will premiere the feature music documentary FANDANGO AT THE WALL on FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 (8:00-9:32 p.m. ET/PT). The film is a joint production between Tiger Turn Productions and Sony Music Latin and is directed by Varda Bar-Kar and executive produced by Quincy Jones, Andrew Young, and Carlos Santana. The film follows multi-Grammy award winning musician Arturo O'Farrill and multi-Grammy award winning producer Kabir Sehgal who journey to Veracruz, Mexico to recruit master musicians for a live album recording at the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
The film will premiere on HBO Latino and be available to stream on HBO Max.
At the heart of the film is the "Fandango Fronterizo" music festival that takes place annually on both sides of the Tijuana-San Diego border. Jorge Francisco Castillo, who founded the festival, invites Sehgal and O'Farrill to Veracruz, Mexico to meet the masters of son jarocho, which is a 300-hundred-year-old folk music that combines indigenous, Spanish, and African traditions. They travel through the scenic countryside of Veracruz recruiting the best of these musicians to join them at the upcoming border festival. With musicians on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, the festival becomes a celebration of friendship and harmony transforming the wall from an object that divides to one that unites. The film features remarkable and dynamic music that blends quintessential son jarocho songs with lush big band jazz arrangements.
The film was produced in partnership with the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance.
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GRAMMY® Award-winning pianist/composer Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra release their latest recording, Four Questions (ZOHO Music), featuring special guest Dr. Cornel West marks O'Farrill's first album in his famed recording catalog to exclusively include all originally written compositions. Weaving together empowering messages for the times, Four Questions portrays the pioneering pianist as outspoken as ever on the obligation of artists to speak truth to the great injustices occurring across the globe.
Premiered live-in-concert at The Apollo Theater on May 21, 2016, "Four Questions" will now be available for worldwide audiences to hear on Four Questions with the electrifying Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra joined by Dr. Cornel West as a guest soloist, conductor, and percussionist. O'Farrill's commissioned piece for the Apollo Theater as part of his MacDowell residency took the shape of Dr. Cornel West's speech at Town Hall (Seattle, WA: October 9, 2014) based on his book, Black Prophetic Fire. Four questions posed by the great African American civil rights activist and author W. E. B. Du Bois in his 1903 book, The Souls of Black Folk, are expounded upon by West while O'Farrill and his 18-piece orchestra usher in a jolt of inspiring fury.
The four essential themes from W.E.B. Du Bois' seminal publication, include: What does integrity do in the face of adversity / oppression? What does honesty do in the face of lies / deception? What does decency do in the face of insult? How does virtue meet brute force?
O'Farrill spoke with WOWD - LP in Takoma MD about the recording. Listen to the attached interview
In this broadcast conversation hosted by Cheryl K of 90.7WGXC in NY's Upper Hudson Valley, the Grammy-award winning pianist and composer Arturo O'Farrill discusses his latest recording, Four Questions ( ZOHO Music) which features the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and special guest Dr. Cornel West on the title composition. Four Questions marks O'Farrill's first album in his recording catalog to exclusively include all originally written compositions. The release portrays the pioneering pianist as outspoken as ever on the obligation of artists to speak truth to the great injustices occurring across the globe.
90.7WGXC: The Jazz Disturbance is show featuring jazz and other improvisational music from local, regional, worldwide and world-class artists and connects listeners with the people and places presenting in the area. Live from Hudson, NY on WGXC (90.7-FM). The Jazz Disturbance playlist and news are available at www.facebook.com/ckdisturbance and at agregariousmisanthrope.blogspot.com.
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With in-person shows still mostly on hold, musicians are finding new ways to insert life into livestreams. Some livestreamed concerts emulate the one-time-only experience of live shows - they're webcast just once in real time, then disappear from the web. Others recognize that anything that's digitized can be recorded and replayed. Here, alphabetically, are 10 of the best virtual concerts that have stayed online.
Arturo O'Farrill's Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, a big band dedicated to the fusion in its name, has turned its weekly Sunday-night slot at Birdland into virtual sets that hold supercharged mambos alongside far-reaching jazz excursions. Painstakingly edited together from solo home recordings, the music still swings mightily. The June 14 edition features Rudresh Mahanthappa with breakneck alto saxophone solos in "The Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite" composed by Arturo's father, Chico O'Farrill.
Questions posed by author W.E.B. Du Bois in his book The Souls of Black Folk are espoused in both word and song by Arturo O'Farrill in this penetrating and serious of his most recent albums. There is an inclusion of a choruses prepared by Jana Ballard, who deliver narrations in solo or choir settings ranging from modern classical to gospel to operatic. The Four Part A Still, Small Voice is a musical reflection to the 2008 financial disaster that effected our country so deeply, and it includes liturgical tones, defiant brass and reeds, and percussion discussions, all based on the biblical story of Elijah hearing God not in wild visions or cacophonies, but in "as still small voice".
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In episode 924 of "ANIMAJAZZ", conceived and conducted by BRUNO POLLACCI , broadcast on TUESDAY 23 June at 20.30, on PUNTORADIO, also streaming on www.puntoradio.fm and in an immediate podcast on http: // animajazz. eu will be ARTURO O'FARRILL & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra - CD "Four Questions'" - "Cacophonus"
GRAMMY® Award-winning pianist/composer Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra released their latest recording, Four Questions (ZOHO Music), featuring special guest Dr. Cornel West on the title composition "Four Questions." Four Questions marks O'Farrill's first album in his famed recording catalog to exclusively include all originally written compositions. Weaving together empowering messages for the times, Four Questions portrays the pioneering pianist as outspoken as ever on the obligation of artists to speak truth to the great injustices occurring across the globe.
We remind you that "ANIMAJAZZ" can be heard on TUESDAY at 20.30 in immediate podcast. Happy listening.
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What does integrity do in the face of adversity and oppression? What does honesty do in the face of lies and deception? What does decency do in the face of insult? How does virtue meet brute force?
These four questions were first posed in 1903 by the civil rights activist W. E. B. Du Bois in his book The Souls of Black Folk. In 2020, those words still ring loudly in the ears of contemporary thought leaders like Dr. Cornel West and, also, of modern jazz musicians like Arturo O'Farrill.
O'Farrill poses those same questions himself in his new album Four Questions, a fiercely ambitious and passionate work by the New York-based musician and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.
It's the Grammy-winning pianist and composer's first album of all original material, and it covers a lot of thematic ground - including friendship, religion, philosophy, physics, economics and the birth of a child - in its eight compositions and hour-long runtime. But its centrepiece is the title track, which features an impassioned speech by Dr. West himself as O'Farrill and his orchestra deliver a blistering 16 minutes of fiery jazz.
Recently, O'Farrill joined Café Latino for a conversation about the thoughts, feelings and circumstances that motivated this latest project - and about his philosophy on jazz itself.
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Arturo O'Farrill is no stranger to complex artistic statements or critiquing systemic social problems. Given the vast-but nuanced-nature of the topics O'Farrill has explored throughout his career, the pianist, composer and bandleader frequently enlists a wealth of performers as collaborators. The approach continues with Four Questions (Zoho).
While collaboration is a hallmark of jazz, O'Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra continually work to offer an expanse of musical, conceptual and political ideas. For the title track, Dr. Cornel West, the author and activist, contributes multifaceted questions first raised by iconic social critic W.E.B. Du Bois in his 1903 book, The Souls of Black Folk. And across Four Questions, every aspect of partnership-from the inspiration behind the repertoire to everyone's distinctive skills-coalesces in valuable, multilayered statements. It's more than just a batch of appealing melodies.
Despite highlighting economic disenfranchisement, "A Still, Small Voice," for example, delivers a message of supporting a collective over a chosen few through a heavily-layered choral approach. Meanwhile, "Baby Jack" exudes the melodic conventions of Afro-Latin jazz, its ebb and flow of dynamic intensity and tonal approachability subtly reflecting the world's current, delicate state.
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"What does unity do in the face of adversity / oppression? What does honesty do in the face of lies / deceit? What is decency in the face of insults? How does virtue meet brute force? " This is a quote from a book written in 1903 by the eminent black rights activist William DuBois, "Souls of the Black People". In 2016, philosopher and publicist Cornel West, along with Arturo O'Farill and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, presented at one of their concerts the composition Four Questions, where West delivers a speech including these four Dubois questions to O'Farill's music. Today she entered O'Farilla's new album and even gave it a title.
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What does integrity do in the face of adversity / oppression? What does honesty do in the face of lies / deception? What does decency do in the face of insult? How does virtue meet brute force? These four questions posed by the great African American civil rights activist and author W. E. B. Du Bois in his 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk are expounded upon in a speech given by Dr. Cornel West based on his book, Black Prophetic Fire, given October 9, 2014 at Town Hall in Seattle. That speech turned my life around and Dr. West has become a giant figure in my thinking.
Without a doubt, he is a controversial figure and many within his own intelligentsia community have attacked him for a variety of reasons. I have learned from firsthand experience that if you are under attack (especially by your own) it could be because standing strong for what you believe will threaten others in their complacency. Regardless of your stance on Dr. West, he holds our feet to the fire and demands that we deal with the social and political horrors of our day. Say what you will, he is a modern-day prophet and prophets throughout the ages are attacked for calling it like it is.
These are some of the ugliest times in American history. In my wildest imagination I could not have foreseen a time when a president would unabashedly divide the nation across racial lines for his own advance and aggrandizement. These days are marked by governance shaped by dishonesty and manipulation and will be a stain in our history for generations to come. More than ever the brilliance of Du Bois' introspections, West's interpretations and the pure jazz fire with which they are delivered are a salve for those who are hurt by this daily assault and an irritant to those who would use ideology to promote hatred and violence.
Four Questions was premiered as the Cornel West Concerto at the Apollo theater on May 21, 2016 by the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra with Dr. Cornel West as guest soloist, conductor and percussionist. The gravity of the 2016 presidential election and its potential for doom was in the air. Dr. West and I were in conversation about Jazz and its inability to address social and political issues. We decided that many of its contemporary leaders had abdicated this responsibility as set forth by revolutionaries like Charles Mingus, Billy Holiday and even Louis Armstrong. Dr. West is a historian of jazz and knows more about its history than many scholars and journalists. We are devotees of the music but wondered where its bite had gone. It seems to be used more for selling nationalism, socio-economic status, soft drinks and luxury cars than to remind us of the history of the African Diaspora. At the end of the piece Dr. West references the ultimate sacrifice that many of our civil rights leaders have made in the continuing struggle. I looked out across my bandstand to see many of my musicians struggling to hold back tears. To look into the face of reality and examine one's own life in context, is the highest realization of this divine gift called music. Also, during my MacDowell residency, I composed a piece called Clump/Unclump. The piece is about the relentless law of gathering and scattering, the coming together and the falling asunder. It occurred to me that this law has a scientific, philosophical, and relational corollary. Some call it, Ying and Yang but it's far different. It's not about cycles or balance, but about elements coming together and then coming apart. When I wrote the piece, I was in the process of dealing with the fact that my oldest child was leaving the parental home and my remaining parent was terminally ill. All of the elements of my life which I thought were rock solid were pulling apart with centrifugal force. In physics, the idea of particles, strings, and atoms acting in this manner is understood but it seemed to me that this was a micro- lesson that's constantly revealed on a macro scale. It became an anthem for the period that we live in that has hatred and mediocrity as its guiding spirit, this too shall pass.
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